It is not often that I see the Red-Bellied Newt or Taricha Rivularis. However, on our last tour, following some morning rains, while walking in the redwoods we had the pleasure of seeing one. I love them.... they have character, are elusive and are just cool to see. It is amazing how well they blend into the forest floor.
The Red-bellied newts are considered to be creatures from the fire and you can see why people believed this. Their skin looks almost charred and their fire-like, tomato-red under belly is just stunning! This feature, and their lack of yellow colored eyes, is what makes the red-bellied newt distinguishable from the others.
They are native to the coastal woodlands in Northern California. They measure (when full grown) up to 3.5 inches. Newts begin their lives as aquatic larvae similar to tadpoles. We saw an adult on the trail - it calmly walked under a redwood log once it realized it had been spotted by intruders (us). At first, it was unmoving and it blended miraculously into the forest floor. Just amazing! We couldn't get our cameras out fast enough (and I am pretty quick on the draw).
When disturbed, the red-bellied newts pull their heads and tails back to reveal their bright-red undersides. This serves as a warning to potential predators, as red-bellied newts have enough of a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, in their skin to easily kill an adult human, or 7,500 mice. SO DO NOT EAT THESE GUYS! and do not touch.
And the coolest thing: Like other newts, red-bellied newts have the ability to regenerate several body parts, including their limbs, eyes, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws, and damaged spinal cords.
IF ONLY WE COULD DO THAT!
Madge Malone in her blogging zone!